Best LED and UV Nail Lamps for Gel Nails

 Gel nails can be achieved at home for a fraction of the cost of going to the salon.  To achieve gel nails at home, you will need a good quality nail lamp to get started.  The great news is that UV lamps are affordable and application is very easy which is why many women have started to do their own nails. At one time, UV nail lamps were only spotted in salons, but so many women now own their own lamps and apply their owns gels.  

Our guide will help you to choose a lamp that is suited to your experience (personal or professional use) and it will also help you to understand the features to look out for.  To skip straight to our top picks, choose an option below:

  • Top 3 recommended nail lamps for home use
  • Top 3 recommended nail laps for professional use

To read more about UV lamps, you can navigate to the following sections in this article:

  • Why buy a nail lamp?
  • Which lamp to chose? The difference between UV and LED lamps
  • Health and safety information about UV lamps
  • Performance features - power output and wattage
  • Features to consider

 Why Buy a Nail Lamp?

A nail lamp is a great beauty investment, especially if you are visiting the nail salon often.  We like to use the "cost per manicure"  equation to justify buying a nail lamp kit.  For example, if you're visiting the salon every 2 weeks and paying $50 each time, you will soon see the cost benefit of having your own nail lamp and polishes - infact, one visit to the salon could pay for a brand new nail lamp!

 The Differences Between LED and UV Lamps

There are a few differences between LED and UV lamps you should know before purchasing your first lamp.  LED lamps are generally the more popular choice as they cure polish quicker than UV lamps, and require no maintainence (light bulb changes).  That being said, UV lamps are overall more reliable when it comes to compatibility for gel polish.  For example, a UV lamp can cure all types of gel polish, but LED lamps can only cure some gel polish brands.  

Our table outlines the main differences between the two lamps below. 

LED Lamp
UV Lamp
Nail Polish:
Cures only some types of nail polish
Nail Polish:
❤ Cures all types of gel & nail polish
Cure Time:
❤ Faster curing time (10-30 secs)
Cure Time:
Slower curing time (average 2 mins)
Eco-Friendliness:
❤ More eco-friendly
(Uses less energy than UV)
Eco-Friendliness:
Less eco friendly
(uses more energy than LED)
Maintenance:
❤ None

Maintenance:
Bulbs need changing
(every 6-12 months)
Price:
Slightly more expensive than UV
Price:
❤ Slightly cheaper than LED
(although maintenance costs are required)
Weight:
❤ Lighter in weight than UV lamps
Weight:
Heavier in weight compared to LED lamps

In summary, LED lamps scored 4 hearts and UV lamps scored 2, which means our recommendation is to buy a LED lamp.  Although UV lamps can cure all types of gel, LED lamps are becoming more compatible with more types of gel and most LED lamp manufacturers will specify what gel brands it is compatible with.

Tip: Always check the manufactures description of the nail lamp - it will specify which nail polish it is compatible with.  In our round up, we have included LED lamps that are compatible with the top gel nail polish brands.

 Skin Care and UVA Safety

UV lamps have been used in salons for over 30 years, and they are regarded as safe with minimal health concerns.  Exposure to rays from a UV lamp is the same as driving a car and your hands being exposed to the sun for less than a few minutes. 

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation both LED (light emitting diodes) and UV lights transmit UVA type rays.  UVA rays penetrate into the deeper, lower layers of the skin which can cause premature skin ageing and skin cancer when skin is exposed excessively and over long periods of time.  The Skin Foundation have highlighted that UV lamps present a far lower risk than any other UV beauty equipment on the market such as tanning devices.  This is because the exposure to UV rays is limited to the back of the hands only - where resistance to UV rays is four times stronger than other parts of the body.  

If you would still like to take extra precaution:

  • Sunscreen of +15SPF can be used, but hands should be washed after application to ensure that discolouration of the nail polish does not occur. 
  • The use of a small towel covering the top of the hands can help to reduce exposure to UV lights
  • UV hand gloves can also be purchased for extra precaution - these are especially great for nail technicians who have clients that are concerned with UV risk

 Understanding Power Output and Wattage 

There are many articles on the web that suggest lamps with higher wattage are higher in performance and output.  This is incorrect.  Wattage is a measurement of power usage and not light output.  For example, a LED lamp typically uses less energy than a UV lamp, therefore it is likely to have a lower wattage.  This does not mean the LED lamp has a poorer output or performance.
Some UV nail lamps will cure two hands compared to one, therefore the wattage is likely to be higher for units that use more energy.  


Tip:
 Don't buy a nail lamp based on its' wattage.  This is not an indicator of output or performance.

 Top Features to Consider

The top features to pay attention to when purchasing a nail lamp include:

  • Cure/drying time - if you plan on doing your nails at home as a hobby, this may not be an important feature for you.  If on the other hand, you are starting out professionally or starting a small business then this is something to consider.  A LED lamp is going to be your best choice here for faster curing times.
  •  Nail Polish Compatibility - LED lamps cannot gurantee to cure all gel and UV polishes.  Some manufactures will state that their lamps are compatible with other brands, but if you are going to be using a certain type of polish over others (for example if you plan on using CND polish, it is best to buy the manufacturers lamp if the lamps you are considering do not gurantee compatibility.  If you'd like to stock up on a range of polishes without worrying about whether or not your lamp will cure them, a UV lamp is the best option for you.  To make things a little more confusing, LED + UV lamps are new to the market - these are lamps that mix both types of light together which can give you the benefits of fast curing times and compatibility with all polish brands.
  • Size and Weight - If you plan on doing nails for friends and family, or starting up a mobile business it is advised to go with a lightweight nail lamp.  Look out for wording that describes the lamp as compact and portable.
  • Timer Settings - For a perfect manicure, it is important that you follow the recommended time for curing polish.  A lamp with timer settings will be more accurate and is a recommended feature to look out for.  As polishes can cure in different lengths of time, it is advised to go for a lamp which has atleast 3 different timer settings.

THE TOP 3 UV & LED LAMPS FOR Home Use

Our top 3 nail lamps below are perfect for personal use, and have been especially hand picked by Cassia who is our expert nail technician with over 10 years experience.  

They have all been chosen due to their compatibility with all gel polish brands and their top quality, beautiful finish. All of our picks are also great value for money. 

1 - MiroPure LED UV Nail Lamp
Product Imagery Why We Love It

The MiroPure LED UV nail lamp is our top pick for DIY nails! This lamp is an amazing buy with a 5 star rating on Amazon

❤ Compatible with all kinds of nail gels including: UV gel, nail builder gel, nail sculpture gel, rhinestone gems glue, CND Shellac, OPI and LED nail gel

❤ Quick cure times of 60 seconds for each coat (base, gel & top coat)

❤ Automatic sensors for hand in and out - as well as 4 timer settings with digital display at the top of the unit

❤ Light and portable

❤ 180 degree angled LED lights for an even finish

❤ A 5 star rated product on Amazon!
2 - SUNUV - LED Nail Dryer & Curing Lamp
Product Imagery Why We Love It

The SunUV Sun9c LED nail lamp is within our top 3 picks for DIY nails! A popular best seller, this lamp is lightweight and portable, it has no brand requirements when it comes to using nail polishes and is perfect for both manicures and pedicures.

❤ Compatible with all kinds of nail gels including: gel nail polish, LED gel nail polish, builders andd acrylic gels

❤ 12 Month warranty

❤ Automatic smart sensors

❤ Light and portable

❤ Fast curing with dual light source (UV & LED)

❤ A number 1 best seller on Amazon
3 - NAILSTAR PROFESSIONAL 36W UV NAIL DRYER FOR GEL
Product Imagery Why We Love It

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The Nailstar UV nail lamp is another top pick from a great brand in our nail lamp round up! Despite its' low price, this nail lamp can also be used professionally which means you can achieve salon results in minutes!

❤ Compatible with all kinds of gel brands including CND Shellac, Gelish, OPI and Bluesky

❤ Professional looking nails in minutes with the built in timers of 2 and 3 minutes

❤ Manicure and pedicure friendly

❤ 4 powered UV bulbs on both the top and sides for an even manicure

THE TOP 3 UV & LED LAMPS FOR PROFESSIONAL USE

 If you're looking to take gel nails to the next level and start your own business, or you already have clients and need a new lamp to keep up with demand -  we have the top lamp recommendations for you that take into consideration cure time, quality and compatibility.  Time is money, so it is extremely important as a professional nail technician that you can achieve top quality gel nails for your clients in a competitive time.

Our 3 recommendations are below:

1 - Gelish professional 18g led uv lamp
Product Imagery Why We Love It


This professional gel nail lamp by Gelish uses both LED and UV light which means that it can cure as fast as 5-30 secs depending on the nail polish used and it can cure all types of polish, which is perfect for technicians who may own a range of colors.
Sensors on the lamp means the only buttons you need to press are the desired time - the lamp does the rest for you and begins countdown the moment your client inserts their hand

Top Features

❤ A reliable lamp which will last for years. It requires little to no maintenance except for cleaning

❤ The unit has enough space to cure both hands without the thumbs, or a full hand including the thumb
❤ A sleek design that can be easily cleaned by removing the magnetic panel at the bottom.

❤ A portable lamp which is easy to pack up for mobile appointments, and comes with a long cord to allow for a flexible work station

❤ Fast curing makes this lamp perfect for nail art and more detailed nail designs

2 - MElodysusie 48w professional led nail lamp
Product Imagery Why We Love It


The MelodySusie 48w LED lamp is one of our top picks for more than a few reasons! MelodySusie is a leading, reputable brand and all of their lamps are high quality, well built, reliable and affordable! This lamp is the best when it comes to value for money. It is perfect for nail technicians who are starting out to intermediate. Those who have mobile clients will benefit from this lamp as it is portable and compact.

Top Features

❤ A best rated product on Amazon with top reviews from women of all different expertise

❤ Compatible with top LED gel polish brands including OPI, Gelish, Orly etc. The lamp is also compatible with UV gel polishes but it is avised to check the label of your gel polish to ensure that your UV polish is 100% compatible.
❤ A removable magnetic base for easy access pedicures

❤ Automatic timer as soon as your client enters her hands, and an alert for when the timer is up.

❤ Can cure base coat in as little as 5 seconds and up to 30 seconds for gel polish.

3 - BELLANAILS 21w professional led nail lamp
Product Imagery Why We Love It


The BellaNails 21w LED lamp is fantastic value, professional quality lamp which cures polish perfectly every time due to its multi-dimensional reflective interior.
BellaNails are so confident in this lamp that it comes with a lifetime guarantee which means if you experience any problems, it will be replaced for free!

Top Features

❤ Salon professional results for a small price!

❤ 3 Timer settings of 30s, 60s and 90s

❤ Built in safety feature to shut down the lamp when on standby

❤ Portable, compact and sleek design for professional use

❤ Can cure all types of gel polish brands